The Book Blogger’s Review Process

Hello Zombie-Monday-Brain Peeps!

We always hear about authors and their writing process but we rarely think about the reviewing process of those who review their works. As book bloggers slowly become a big player in the reviewing game, it’s an important think about their process.

PROCESS? It’s just reviews and they’re just bloggers. There’s nothing complicated about it.

– Says invisible internet person

It’s important because it:

  •  shows readers as well as new bloggers that there are different processes involved and there isn’t a right or wrong way of doing it
  • shows the hard work that gets put into reviews and that it’s not always something that’s pulled out from the sky or an easy thing to do
  • it’s one more question to ask when choosing which blog to follow
  • it’s just one more thing to add to your “How?” pile

First off, not all processes are the same for all bloggers.

I know some bloggers that review books days after reading them because they can better gather and articulate their thoughts that way. For them, having some time away is very much a part of their process and creates a quality review.

Personally, I work the opposite way. I need to write the review right after finishing the book so I can remember every single detail including things like my general feelings and impressions because that’s often the first thing to go as the days roll by. Sometimes, if a book is super intense or drains me emotionally, I’ll give myself some time away but it wouldn’t be any longer than a day or the quality of the review starts to decrease. This isn’t a set rule for me since there are reviews that I write days later that would’ve been just as good if written right away but most of the time this is my process (sometimes I just don’t have the time to do it right away).

What about when it comes to reading other people’s reviews? 

Bloggers do this differently too! Some bloggers like to read reviews before starting a particular book while others like reading them afterwards.

I do a combination of the two. Before reading the book,  I would check out the ratings that different bloggers and readers on Goodreads have given it to get a sense of what I’m getting into. After I’ve finished a book, that’s when I read the full reviews. I’ll read a few that are in line with my feelings of the book but most of the ones I read are in opposition to what I’ve thought. Why do I do this? To get a broader sense of the ideas swirling around and to give my review some depth. By reading oppositions, you’re arguments will either get stronger and/or weaker. You’ll ask yourself:

  • “Am I over-reacting because of _________ or is this a legitimate claim I’m making?”
  • “Am I just going with the flow in the direction of the popular reviews or can I offer some deserved criticism/praise that’s different from popular thought?”

It’s interesting to find how much of outside influences change what we think without being aware which is where the critical thinking comes in. Just like you’re told to question everything you see in the media, the same should be said of what you read/hear in regards to other reviews.

A cool thing to try out is to write out a rough version of your review with your thoughts and feeling. Then check out other people’s reviews (both in accordance and in opposition to what you’ve wrote) to see if some of your arguments can be strengthened (as in, “did you give a reason as to why you’ve felt that way?”), thrown out completely (there was no real reason to have this point) or kept (you’ve given solid reasons and feel strongly about what you’ve written. Most importantly, it’s YOUR thoughts/feelings).

Reviews are easy and come naturally to book bloggers (especially if they’ve done it for a long time)

Not true (at least from who I’ve spoken to it isn’t but, as always, there are exceptions). My reviews usually take anywhere from 3o mins to a day to write. It takes time. My Grade 10 English teacher used to tell us that out of the 10o% of the things we want to have on the page, 50% get on there successfully on the first try. Then 70% and so on. Why do you think authors write multiple drafts of their book or revise like crazy? it’s about finding the right word or phase that will say everything that you’re thinking or feeling.

I love reading but most of the time I read good books. Not great books that stay with me for days in a blanket of  “OMG. That was AH-MAZING” or books that I thought were so horrible but books that are okay which, for me, are the hardest to write. Some bloggers find that it’s the opposite for them. If the book is amazing or terrible (the extremes), it’s really hard for them to write those reviews.

If a review doesn’t come easy to you, it doesn’t mean you’re a mediocre blogger or that a blogger is a prodigy because it DOES come easy to them (by the way, I’d like to talk to that blogger to which these easy reviews come so naturally/easy).

There’s no right or wrong way in the review process

Just as there is no universal writer’s process for writing books and such, the same goes for the review process. Do what works for you.

A. A. Omer

P.S.

There are such things as review/critique etiquette which I strongly suggest new (and experienced) bloggers should look up because there’s critical and then there’s just being mean.

3 thoughts on “The Book Blogger’s Review Process

  1. I tend to write my reviews in chunks, I will sit down once a week and write the reviews for everything that I have finished since I wrote the last batch of reviews. I start with the basic information and summary and jot down my initial thoughts and impressions before fleshing out what I really want to say. That is when I might check out other reviews, to see if my opinion or feelings on something is because of my history or personal life, or if others have had the same feeling. If I seem to be the only one with a particular thing that I noticed about a book I might include possible reasoning behind my different take on something.

    Some reviews are really easy to write, particularly if feelings about the book are very strong. Others are much more challenging. Nothing here is cookie cutter, every book, every reader, and every review is a little different.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I think it’s important for people to realize that writing reviews takes time and effort. For me, each review takes at least two hours to write, edit, and post. Usually it’s longer because I need to source pictures and links – it can take me a few days to properly gather my thoughts and get them on the page, as well. It’s really not easy, but I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve gotten up a review or post that I really like.

    I’m definitely one of those bloggers who finds it easier to write reviews for books that are just okay. For ones I love or hate, it’s a painful process that involves me trying to be objective instead of just saying, “OMG (#(%$*$(%*&$) just read it/don’t read it already!!!”

    I try not to look at other people’s reviews until after I’ve written an initial draft. I don’t want other people’s thoughts to influence mine. Sometimes, that can’t be helped, especially with a book that’s had a lot of hype and praise, or just one that interests me that I read about on someone else’s blog.

    It’s definitely a personal process, and it IS a process. I hope people realize that.

  3. Love this, because there are definitely so many different ways/styles of writing reviews. I try to write down notes right away after finishing a book, because otherwise I tend to forget details… which kind of makes it hard to write a full review.

    I agree that “so-so” reviews are hard to write. When I tend to think a book is good but not great it’s hard to convey that, I think, because I start saying “well this is good, but I didn’t love it because ___” … so it becomes more a listing of things I didn’t like, which tends to make it more negative in tone than I actually felt. But reviews for books I really love tend to be hard for me too, because it’s like “I just LOVED it because of reasons. You need to read ittttt & no I can’t explain why, I just adored it and it gave me all the feelings!” That might be convincing for some people, but I’d like to be able to rationally explain why it worked so well, and sometimes that’s hard. As for books I disliked? Oh those reviews I tend to write very easily.

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